The Apple HomePod mini has finally gained support for handoff functionality, which allows you to seamlessly transfer music, podcasts, and calls between your phone and the compact smart speaker.
When Apple announced the HomePod Mini in the fall of 2020 it said the smart speaker would benefit from ultra-wideband technology, seamlessly shifting music to and from a nearby iPhone. The feature was promised by the end of 2020, but failed to arrive.
Now, with the release of iOS 14.4 this week, it has finally arrived. The update builds on Apple’s Handoff system, which allows for the transfer of tasks from one Apple device to another. This includes copying and pasting text from an iPad to a Mac, for example, or starting an email on your iPhone and finishing it on a Mac.
Moving a U1-equipped iPhone near a HomePod mini while music is playing now provides cool haptic feedback that gradually increases in intensity as the two devices get closer, before finally opening up an interactive set of playback controls.
Here’s a video from MacRumors in which the feature is tested:
While it may seem like a small thing — Handoff arguably worked just fine before — it adds a new dimension of fun and whimsy to the experience, making it much more interactive than the previously binary operation of transferring your current playlist between devices.
You need a HomePod mini with the latest software and an U1-equipped iPhone, such as iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, running iOS 14.4 to use Apple’s ultra-wideband handoff feature.
Outside of powering the latest version of AirDrop, this is one of the first features we’ve seen Apple use the U1 chip to enhance. The component is expected to power the company’s long-rumored AirTags, which Apple will reportedly announce later this year.